Study Web is the space students have constructed for themselves in response to the irl system that just isn’t working. Unable to find a place or person to turn to with their academic and career anxieties, they find internet strangers—strange kin—to speak to, or simply share the same space with, online. Lacking the intrinsic inspiration to study for hours each day, online advice and group accountability provide a solution. Feeling isolated, virtual study partners create a sense of fellowship. On Study Web, while stressed, students have accepted their lot—they’re not investigating the rightness or wrongness of the pressurized environment of the Gen Z student or asking whether college is worth it at all. 12-hour Study With Me videos are seen as something to aspire to rather than rebel from. Students accept the premise that school and studying are non-negotiables. Where they come from, where they live, their beliefs and value systems are not barriers to community-building; they suffer in common.
And Study Web is huge, and weird:
The Study Web is a constellation of digital spaces and online communities—across YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Discord, and Twitter—largely built by students for students. Videos under the #StudyTok hashtag have been viewed over half a billion times. One Discord server, Study Together, has over 120 thousand members. Study Web extends far past study groups composed of classmates, institution specific associations, or poorly designed retro forums discussing entrance requirements for professional programs. It includes but transcends Studyblrs on Tumblr that emerged in 2014 and eclipses various Reddit and Facebook study groups or inspirational images shared across Pinterest and Instagram. Populated mostly by Gen Z and the youngest of millennials, Study Web is the internet most of us don’t see, and it’s become a lifeline for students from junior high to college.
By Fadeke Adegbuyi, this is one of the best pieces I have read all year.